Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday said that the United Nations will not tolerate sexual harassment “anytime, anywhere,” within its ranks. Guterres also laid out a five-point plan to ensure equality across the Organization. This, according to him, is important to tackle the challenge of such behaviour.

“I reaffirm my total commitment to the UN’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment,” Mr Guterres told the press at the Organization’s Headquarters in New York.

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The Secretary-General further acknowledged that there is a male-dominated culture that permeates governments, private sector, international organizations and even areas of civil society. “This creates obstacles to upholding zero- tolerance policies on sexual harassment, including here at the United Nations. I am determined to remove [those obstacles],” he said.

“This is a start,” he stressed, urging equality at all levels and outlining some concrete steps to address sexual harassment.

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He focussed on the following five measures :

  • A new helpline for staff within the Secretariat who seek confidential advice will be operational by mid-February.
  • Establishment of a Task Force of leaders from across the UN system to step up efforts to tackle harassment and boost support for victims, including mandatory staff training on this issue.
  • Strengthening the protection of whistleblowers and reminded staff of their duty to call out sexual harassment and to support those affected.
  • A survey among Secretariat staff will be conducted soon to obtain better information on prevalence and reporting rates.
  • Taking every allegation seriously, past and present. Moreover, making sure all staff affected know what to do and where to find help.

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